The Blog Take-away: Google Searches for Businesses “Near Me” are on Rise.   Big TIME.

Savvy Law Firm Owners need to take advantage of this development and shape a responsive Local SEO Strategy.

Picture1 1

Be honest- How many times have you typed something like this: “Chinese food near me;” “Oil change near me;” “Pet store near me;” or any other business “Near me” into your smart phone in the last few weeks?

If you are like the bulk of Americans, then you are performing Businesses “Near Me” searches now more than ever.  And with the price of gas continuing to rise- and the desire for convenience, too- It’s no wonder these “near me” searches are on the steep incline.

In fact, even the most conservative numbers out there are clocking these Near me searches at a 150% Increase in the last few years.

Picture2

What does this mean for law firm owners?

Last month I wrote a blog about why law firm owners should think about opening legitimate albeit small satellite offices in their desired market to leverage the increased “Near Me” searches.   If you missed the blog, then click here to check it out.

If you want to sign more cases and reach more consumers with your firm’s messaging, then you must be responsive to marketing shifts and trends in consumer behavior.  

Picture3

To quote Babe Ruth: “Yesterday’s Home Runs Don’t Win Today’s Games.”

If you’re more into literature than sports analogies, then Louis L’Amour’s famous words may bring home the point: “A Ship Does Not Sail with Yesterday’s Wind. “

Picture4

For years now, law firm owners who landed a coveted place in Google’s 3-pack were assured the visibility they needed to attract more leads. And while that is still a critical goal – the emergence of growing “Near Me” searches mean adding another key goal to your firm’s Marketing Agenda.

Even if your firm is squarely in Google’s Top GMB THREE -Pack GMB (Google My Business), that does NOT mean your firm will be anywhere close to top billing in a “Near Me” search.

Why?

Because although Googles Algorithms often remain a mysterious moving target – with the rules of engagement shifting like sand- One thing is crystal clear: If you conduct   any business “Near Me, “search, the first Bright-Line Test is location. Period.

In Near Me Searches, Google uses the searcher’s present location to make sure they are giving users the most relevant results nearest to them.  According to Google, they use three key metrics in their Near Me Algorithm:  

*Relevance,

*Distance, and

*Prominence.

Online Relevance: Make sure your Website and GMB page content is thorough and matches what your consumers are looking for. If you want Google to rank you well, Google needs to determine your law firm is “relevant.” Google’s algorithm needs to understand who you are, what you do, and where you are. Optimize your relevance by adding complete and detailed info to your GMB listing including address, phone number, pictures, maps, and content- updating and adding content that addresses the questions consumers are asking. 

Distance: It is what it is. There’s no mystery here. Google analyzes the exact distance between your business and the user.

Online Prominence: This factor is harder to quantify, and part of the Google mystique. It’s apparently a combination of the strength of your brand, customer ratings and the volume of online data about your business including number of Online reviews, Backlinks and such.

Picture5

If I’m looking for Pizza near me, it does NOT matter that the best pizza in town- the business with 1.5K Google Reviews- is only three miles away from me. Google will “dish up” the Pizzerias that have claimed their GMB, and that are truly the closest to me- Even if those restaurants only have 20 Reviews, rather than 1.5K 5-stars Reviews.

So where does this leave law firms who want to continue to be found online by the growing number of consumers who are using “near Me” google searches?

It’s not like you can simply place a law firm satellite office on every street corner in your market. (Although setting up a few satellite offices in key areas of your market would be a wise move.)

Fortunately, there are some Local SEO Strategies that you can implement to increase your visibility in these “Near Me” local searches.

Now here’s the Disclaimer- I’m NOT an SEO Expert. Far From it.

My goal is to alert you to the issue- so you can go to your SEO Provider- and make sure they are implementing new LOCAL SEO Strategies into their ongoing SEO plan for your firm.

With that in mind- here are some IDEAS TO HELP YOU REACH THIS INCREASING DEMOGRAPHIC OF LAW FIRM CONSUMERS.

Picture6

LOCAL SEO Strategies for Law Firm Marketing:

  1. Build up Your GMB profile page and update it frequently in order to boost its Google “relevance.”
    • If you have more than one office location, set up a GMB page for each office.
    • Include your firm’s full address, phone number, compete contact info, as well as maps/pictures/videos of your office.
    • Include additional useful content, such as Q&A content to answer questions consumers ask about law firms in general, and in your specific area of practice.
  2. Use Google Posts in your GMB to create and update Relevant Content. Write about your firm, and include any upcoming drives, community sponsorships, top client Q & A’s, etc. (Don’t forget to set up backlinks wherever possible – to the community groups you’re supporting or sponsoring and get them to do the same)
  3. Boost your Efforts to Obtain Online Google Reviews- Google’s algorithm values relevancy and prominence- Online Reviews check off both these Google boxes. In today’s world, Online Reviews also mean credibility to consumers.   Create a systematized process so that you obtain these important reviews at the end of each and every case.
  4. Make your firm a 24/7 Go-To Law Firm. Outsource off hour coverage to a call center if necessary, and employ chat bots, so you are responsive to users 24/7.
  5. Use Google Click to Call.
  6. Use Local Key Words on your landing pages and in your Online Content- URL/Titles/Headlines/Image Data. Pick out Key words relevant to your business and combine them with your specified local region/city/- (Don’t use or attach “near me” keywords to your site- Google is apt to penalize you for that tactic.)
  7. Make Sure Your NAP Data is consistent everywhere you have an online presence.
    • NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) -Your firm’s Name, Address and Phone Number needs to be correct and consistent across the board- on your GMB, website, all pages, and in all your online listings. Even slight variations can be a problem to Google- since Google values accurate info for its users. (Management Tools like Moz Local- MozLocal.com allows you to manage/sync your business listings and check for unintended variations)
  8. Make sure your website is Mobile Friendly- with a fast load time, large easy to read fonts, and call to action buttons. Most near me searches are conducted on a mobile phone, but many websites and landing pages are designed on and for desktop or laptops. Don’t lose out to competitors whose sites load faster and are easier to navigate.
  9. Don’t forget Alexa- Optimize your website and GMB for voice search. Start by creating a list of top questions people might ask their smart device- Amazon Echo- or Google Home- Include those questions and answers on your website and in your GMB.
  10. Claim your Spot on any Available Local Online Listings- Google is looking not just at literal location, but at relevance and prominence. So, the more your firm’s name pops up in other listings, the better. (Google your competitors NAP and see where they are listed, too- and get listed there as well.)

You Don’t have to Figure Out how to leverage Online Marketing Strategies for your law firm on your own! – Mark your calendar and register NOW for PILMMA’s 2022 Legal Marketing & Management Super Summit- June 27-29, 2022, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New Orleans.

Join us in New Orleans

Its 3 days Jam Packed with the VERY Latest Winning Strategies for Law Firm Owners Who are Serious about Signing more Cases, Seeing More Profits, and Leaving their competition in the Dust.